Dear Friends and Relatives: Christmas 1990
It's here, it's here, it's finally here!! (And you were hoping Rover would get to the mailman before he delivered it.) Well, your worst fears are confirmed...it's the 4TH ANNUAL PAUKERT CHRISTMAS LETTER! This year we've spared no expense to bring you the finest in HIGH-QUALITY CHRISTMAS LETTER ENTERTAINMENT. The 1990 edition of the PCL is truly a high-tech, computerized, user-friendly wonder, (and it's environmentally friendly too!, no ozone-destroying CFC's were used in the manufacture of the 1990 PCL). Who could have imagined 4 years ago when we founded PCL, Inc. that it would grow into a multi-national operation serving the needs of millions of North Americans. Today, lucky subscribers in 26 states and 8 provinces rely on the PCL to supply them with everything they need to train their puppies, wrap their fish, line their birdcages and treat their most chronic cases of insomnia.
As incredibly boring as the answer might be, once again we endeavour to answer the burning question: "So Harriet, whaddaya think dem Paukerts is been up to this year, huh?" In the past, certain (communist, subversive) elements of our readership (that's you, Mike), have accused me of not mentioning what my wife, (the lovely and talented Barb), has been doing. (I just assumed everyone knew that putting up with me is a full-time job). Nevertheless we shall begin with her this year. But, let's be brutally honest here: Barb is basically a KEPT woman. (She KEPT saying no when I told her to get a job!). However, she does do a superb job as chief cook & bottle-washer and the local Poison Control Centre regularly sends her thank-you notes for keeping me out of the kitchen. On top of household stuff Barb is in two weekly Bible studies and keeps in shape by daily walking incredible distances. She thinks nothing about walking all the way home from downtown, whereas I get tired just taking the bus that far. She really puts in the miles, and that's impressive since she attended her (censored!)th high-school reunion this past summer!
Then there's me, doing pretty much the same stuff as last year (awright, who said 'goofing off'?). I'm still in the same project working N.E. British Columbia. It was a pretty good year. We drilled a few wells, and one of them is actually producing oil without it spewing all over the local ecology, so everyone's fairly happy and there's lots left to keep us busy. One ominous cloud on the horizon is the end of the assignment in July of next year when Exxon will probably want to bring me back to Texas. That is not where we want to be but we figger on letting God have the deciding vote in this dispute. I expect soon to receive Landed Immigrant status which allows me to live and work permanently in Canada. Hopefully, Esso will want to hire me away from Exxon, and we won't have to 'jump ship' in order to stay in Calgary. If not, there does seem to be a demand
for Geophysicists at other companies. If we find the Lord has closed those doors we'll assume He either wants us back in Texas or perhaps to consider a career change to something more stable...such as manager of the New York Yankees.
Ok, Ok, quit pestering me I'm getting to the travelogue now. Anyone want to guess to which bizarre places the Paukerts went THIS year?? How about Cow Head, Newfoundland; Yellowknife, Northwest Territories; Prince Edward Island and the Bay of Fundy for starters? (Geeze Marge, when are dem kids goin' ta settle down and go some-place FUN on their vacation, like the Paducah Kumquat Festival or the Ocaloosa Alligator Wrestling Hall o' Fame??). Tightwads to the end, we once again travelled on the "Paukert Plan" which involves sleeping in the trusty tent, eating in greasy spoons, driving 10 hours per day and letting the company buy one of the plane tickets, (and you thought you had a good time in Hawaii!). Anyway, Gary was sent on a Geology field trip to study sand deposits in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, so we managed to tack on a vacation prior to the school. After flying to Halifax, Nova Scotia we drove up to Prince Edward Island for a few days of camping and bicycle touring until our butts were numb. (We interrupt this Christmas Letter for a note from Gary to all U.S. readers: "You have no idea where these places are, do you? Do not be concerned, this is normal. We Americans never get to learn anything about Canada in school except the stuff about igloos, sled dogs and the Mounties. Fight back! Get out the Atlas!). After that it was off to Cape Breton I., Nova Scotia for some seashore backpacking. The best bit was ferrying over the North Atlantic to Newfoundland where we stayed with a Lobster fisherman and his family and backpacked up the fjords to the barrens of Gros Morne National Park. The weather, Geology and plant-life were so new to us it was as if we had gone to another planet.
Our other big excursion this year was to the utter north. In September we hopped into the jeep and drove north until the roads ran out near the treeline just north of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. The forests were ablaze with colours as we camped our way up north, stopping to see friends Stephen and Lovella Soles in N.W. Alberta. (Yes, we were sleeping on the ground outdoors in the Northwest Territories in September. Why does that surprise you, by now you KNOW we're a bit loony). The trip home took us hundreds of miles west along the newly-opened Liard Highway (Highway means "passable gravel road" up there) that runs along the Mackenzie Mountains on the Yukon/NWT border. We camped along the mighty Liard river for two nights of the most spectacular, sky-filling Aurora Borealis we've ever seen. After hitting Alaska, the Yukon and the Territories in the space of 13 months it should be fairly obvious that we have serious cases of 'North Fever.' I'm sure we'll be heading back that way in the future.
Everyone comes to visit us now that we live in Calgary, (we're getting suspicious, maybe it's not just to see us?). My parents were here for a week in July and we made sure they got to see a lot of the natural splendour of Alberta, such as Banff and Jasper National Parks and the West Edmonton Mall. Bruce and Cathy Heise came all the way from Midland, TX and together we backpacked into the Bugaboos area of British Columbia over the long weekend in August. What a place that is! 2,000-foot-tall granite spires rising up out extensive icefields. It was a perfect weekend with old friends. We went skiing and hiking a lot this year with our faithful dog-and-house-sitting friend Loreen Finnman and Esso-ites Robert and Deb Oggy. Robert is turning Gary into a big Calgary Stampeders football fan (not too hard since, as a Denver Bronco fan, Gary is already partial to lost causes). Barb's mom and dad visited from the province next-door twice, and we reciprocated. We also got to see Ed and Marlene Olson (Whitworth Geology prof and better half) who were nice enough (again) to house us on a trip to Spokane. Remember the rules about visiting the Paukert house. (#1) Please do. (#2) Bed & Board are free. (#3) No spitting on the carpets, (sorry, but we have had to get tough).
We grow more and more thankful for the fellowship and support of our church, the choir, and the couples' group. We had a tremendous retreat up in the mountains in April and are involved in a couple of other ministries, including a downtown business-persons' study and support group. Gary now wields ultimate power and authority as President of the choir. This is a major responsibility which consists mostly of running around yelling "everyone get in line, we're late for the service!!" Together, Barb and I are going to serve on the couple's group planning committee next year.
Kootenai and Toquima, as you can see from this year's totally revamped and improved PCL photo, are still with us and are continually training for the upcoming CANADIAN NATIONAL FRIENDLY BRAINLESS DOG COMPETITION. Actually Gary has been putting in regular training sessions so now they just wag their tails and roll on their backs when they meet you instead trying to get attention by crawling down your throat. This year instead of adding to our dog collection we got a computer. We can now both say words like "megabyte" and "Autoexec.bat File" almost as if we know what we're talking about. We got an IBM-compatible and Barb and are a now terribly infected with computer-itis.
Hoo-Boy. I SWORE I would never write a 3-page Christmas letter! We just did too much this year. Next year we'll sit around the house more and cut it down to two pages...I promise. (Like it matters, I'm fully aware everyone fell asleep back there when I was talking about getting the atlas out!). In any case it's time to bring this thing in for a landing. We sure think it's wonderful that all you people all over three countries think enough of us to be our friends and keep in touch with us. We think about you all (really) and pray for you a lot. Please come see us here in Alberta, we promise you a wonderful time (Aw heck, you can even spit on the carpet if you want). We leave you with the fervent prayer that God will fill every day of 1991 with His peace, joy and contentment and that each of you will know the wonder of seeing God work out His incredible plan for your lives.
With Christ's Love,
Gary and Barb, Kootenai and Toquima, (The usual gang of wackos)